BANGOR, Maine — Hundreds of northeastern Maine residents gathered at Husson University on Oct. 25 to walk with families, friends and co-workers in the Maine Start! Heart Walk.
The American Heart Association event encourages people to incorporate walking into their lifestyle while raising funds to support research and education, said walk co-chairmen Bindy and Tom Palmer. Participants raised more than $60,000 to support the mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Bindy Palmer shared her own story of suffering a heart attack due to stress four years ago: “I have learned how insidious stress and worry can be in the way they build their presence in our lives. Through that awareness, I have learned important strategies for coping with life’s demands.”
Top employee fundraising teams were Hannaford Supermarkets, $12,656; St. Joseph Healthcare, $6,190; Macdonald Chase & Dufour, $3,069; and Northeast Cardiology, $1,893.
Bangor heart attack survivor Dan Williams was the top individual fundraiser with more than $1,700. Fellow top fundraising walkers were Jamie Fernald, Scott Blake and Marilyn Voisine.
Before embarking on either a 1- or 4-mile route, walkers warmed up with members of the Husson University Physical Therapy Department and the YMCA. Dan Williams shared the story of suffering a massive heart attack last December.
“Recognizing the risks and signs of heart attack and calling 911 immediately is the best action you can take in saving your life or the life of someone you care about,” said Williams. “You will give that person the same second chance at life that I have had.”
The friend who called 911, Bonnie Burne, nominated Williams for the association’s Start! Lifestyle Change Award for losing more than 40 pounds and changing his eating habits.
Michelle Czapiga of Merrill Bank also received the Start! Lifestyle Change Award, nominated by co-worker Trish Hansen for losing more than 40 pounds since January. Czapiga is training to run a half marathon this fall and a full marathon in January.
The Palmers announced that Bill and Nancy McKechnie have accepted the leadership role of 2009 Heart Walk co-chairmen.
Hannaford Supermarkets, state-wide Start! Sponsor, donated breakfast for walkers. Local sponsors included Wal-Mart Distribution Center, the Kids Zone Sponsor and donor of a 32-inch hi-definition plasma television for raffle; St. Joseph Healthcare, the Inspire Change: Get Healthy Sponsor, offering blood pressure screenings; and Affiliated Healthcare Systems, the Start Line Sponsor.
The Heart Walk was made possible by national sponsors Subway Restaurants, Healthy Choice and AstraZeneca. The local Subway provided lunch. Media Sponsors were KISS-FM, The Maine Edge and Time Warner Cable.